Tuesday, September 30, 2008


These are technically shrubs, but my neighbor shapes them so thoughtfully. I see him out in his yard sometimes with his little clippers, which I believe run on battery power. They sound like this: rrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Not too noisy. He trims all the little branches that stick out on the dinosaurs and the dragon that look like "fur" until they're smooth again. The big eye on the dragon is a nice touch.

He also has a shrub tea set. That's for next time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Welcome to the Artificial

The park by Columbia Tech Center has walking paths around an artificial grove of trees, surrounding an artificial pond (with waterfall) that feeds into an artificial creek. The birds don't mind, taking up perches throughout, and enjoying the water for bath time.

It's a welcome island of artificiality in what I believe was once a quarry, now with housing and commercial development all around it. When I go to the gym, I park across the street from here. The creek comes out on the other side of the street near my lot and pours down into another, dramatic artificial waterfall. Someone really budgeted for this! Well done.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Crunchy, Crunchy Leaves

I walked through these leaves today. The first crispy, crackly leaves of the year. I said hello to the home-owner and muttered, "Crunch, crunch," as I walked away. I'm not dotty. I just like Fall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Every week it's getting darker earlier. In winter, the Northwest is pretty much dark after 4:30(!) We're not quite there yet. The sun's hanging in 'til about 6:30 or so. We still get beautiful evenings where the sky is a deep midnight blue, or the clouds turn rosy pink as the sun sinks down.

Here's a line of trees in shadow with some dark spots on several branches. Those would be the crow convention that was gathered in the park, hanging out by the man-made creek and waterfall.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to get out your umbrella trees

It's Fall today. And it's gray and wet outside. The summer was here just a few days ago, but within a 24-hour period, it gave way. Umbrella trees will come in handy now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Obama Tree

This tree is for change.

Directly across the street from it is a weeping Japanese Maple for McCain.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This shouldn't happen to a tree

Our neighbors took drastic measures to thin out their Douglas Firs, making them look like pointed palms. In this case, you might as well GO ALL THE WAY and chop them down. This is not much of a look for an evergreen, especially in an area full of very tall, full greenery.

To make it more mysterious, some kind of incredibly loud creature used to live in one of these trees, shrieking every afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. I never got a glimpse of this animal, but it sounded much like what I imagine a pterodactyl might have. It's gone now. Too embarrassed to live in something out of a Dr. Seusss tragedy. It sounded something like: HYAAAAAAAAACHHHHHHH!!! CHYRAAAAAAAAAACCCCHHHH!!!

I don't miss that.

Update: I talked to the little girl who lives in this house and she told me the sounds were coming from their pet cockatoo, who was caged in the backyard. They've since sold it (to whom, I wonder?) and now all we hear is her long-haired dachsund, yapping and howing the live long day.

Please enjoy this video of Snowball the dancing cockatoo. He's really quite good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Creeping Blue Passion Flower

Small Douglas Fir in our yard, being slowly engulfed by a passion flower that wants to take over the world, one fence and plant at a time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Get Bent Tree

Whoops, had out-of-towners visiting and I missed Monday's tree. No matter. Here's the "get bent" tree, as in: what's up with that tree--it's like it's telling me to "get bent."

Friday, September 12, 2008

First Fall Colors

Fall starts September 22nd, but here's the first sign of the season (besides a couple of chilly nights and mornings). I noticed my tiny weeping Japanese Maple had a few red leaves today. Here come the colors--whoo!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Following The Sun

We're having summer-like weather all this week, so here's some sunflowers (with Douglas Fir in the background).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When Trees Are Gross

Our neighbor's Birch has gigantic nests of what appear to be caterpillar colonies, hanging like gossamer hammocks from above. This one isn't even the biggest cluster in this tree. There's one that looks like it has thousands of dormant worm-shaped creatures, just hanging there. It's ominous.

My Aunt had a similar situation in Seattle a number of years ago. Something was hanging up in her tree and when it broke open, tens of thousands of caterpillars came raining down. She had to call an exterminator and she felt like she was in a gardening horror film.

I've decided to cross off "Birch" from my tree-planting list.

Update: I recently read in the Oregonian that these particular caterpillars are harmless to the tree if they show up near the end of summer/beginning of fall. They'll eat the leaves but the tree will survive. It's when they show up in the beginning of summer that you've got to panic. I mean, you've got to get rid of them, by pruning and tossing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Decorative Orderliness

Ornamental Cherry Trees offset by a brilliant flowered border. Straight lines can be pretty too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

UC Berkeley Starts Chopping

The last four tree-sitters are holding out in a redwood tree at UC Berkeley this weekend. University police are in the cherry-picker, trying to talk them down, but no go. UC wants to build a sports center but were stymied for 21 months by tree-sitters who didn't want 42 old-growth trees cut down for the construction project. UC has promised to replace all the trees or to move existing ones to other locations.

At one point when police tried to forcibly remove some of the sitters, they were pummeled with urine and feces. It's been a hell of a protest, but it's winding down as of 9 a.m. today. What happens then? Nobody's saying, but the sitters will not be allowed to sit any more, having already been cut off from their food and water supply as of Friday.

I like trees for sure, but if a school wants to build a sports center for its athletes and a court order says it's OK, I guess I'm one to shrug my shoulders. I can't imagine living in a tree for even one night, let alone 21 months, so that's impressive, but at some point, there's a lot more pressing problems in the world. Righteousness or wrongfulness? Having already been trimmed up to the top, this tree would be an eye-sore at this point anyway.

source: SFGate

Friday, September 5, 2008

When Trees Destroy

This tree in front of our house is destroying our neighbor's fence. I feel bad about it, but look how huge it is. How much does it cost to erradicate a tree this size? I'm afraid to find out. There was an attempt to dig up a root that might have been causing the problem, but a few months later, the fence just bent back once more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Banana Leaf Palm

Surrounded by a fragrant and ever-changing flower garden, courtesy of our neighbors.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Yellow-cedar, Spring 2008

In Spring the Yellow-cedar in our front yard was still green with its cone-shaped berries hanging in clusters. It's yellow-green now and crowding out a Japanese Maple which was planted two feet away by the previous owner of our house. This tree may have to go (cue ominous music).

OK, I lied. We were away for over a week and I just went outside to check on this tree and all the yellow is gone. Where did it go?